There were days when Federer would return skiers off of his back-hand and loose a set and there were days when a 5-setter was a death bed for this master. In all possibilities Federer’s game was conditional. The bar was set so high by himself that, anything past 3 sets were written failures and tie-breakers were questioning his capabilities.
Tennis by all means has to be unconditional and Nadal in modern-era is an example in case. He defied critics and proved his mettle side stepping Federer at least for a while. Winning was more important than ability and perspiration was a symbol of hard-work and logic. Federer on the other hand was clinical, calm and gentlemanish esquire from the beginning. He was successful in drawing a circle around him and tennis did not cross those boundaries ever since he claimed his first title.
When Federer was denied French Open 4 times in a row by a player who was playing tennis outside of Federer’s boundaries, he must have realized that the lines are inconsequential and limitless. His non eloquent racket has to speak out ‘unconditionally’ and he did that with fervor and fortitude. It did not matter to any, that he laid his fingers on the coveted French by not defeating the ultimate conqueror nor it mattered when he squashed Pete’s feat of 14 and ‘reclaimed’ his Wimbledon crown setting a record by playing the longest game in history. It was necessary to be unconditional for Federer and play that ‘length’. Critics are never convinced neither does his heart, but the moment of truth is that his ability to come out and play tennis all for the game’s own sake.
Federer is at his unconditional best, he does not mind going past the 3 setter, he does not mind playing tie breakers after tie breaker, he does not mind a 16-14 win over Roddick and more importantly he does not mind Nadal’s absence. When he plays on these conditions, that is when Federer is the ‘Unconditional King’.
A tribute to the greatest player in the history of the game, RF.